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Typifying fat tissue in calves


Despite fat in meat being frequently associated with negative connotations for the consumer, it is an indispensable component in order to obtain quality meat. To better understand the metabolism of the fat in calf meat and to enable its possible modulation in future, Martín Alzón Aldave has presented his PhD thesis on the Development and metabolism of veal fat tissue in seven Spanish autochthonous breeds of meat-yielding calves.

Seven autochthonous breeds

Martín Alzón had two aims with this project. Firstly, to typify the fat tissue of both light weight calves (320 Kg live weight) and heavy weights (540 Kg live weight) from the main Spanish meat-producing breeds: Asturiana, Avileña, Morucha, Parda Alpina, Pirenaica, Retinta and Rubia Gallega. To this end he studied, amongst other factors, the amount of fat, the size of the adipoceres and the activity of the principal lipogenic enzymes of the internal fatty deposits and of the canal.

The results of the research show that calves from the Morucha, Retinta and Avileña breeds had the greatest quantities of fat in the four fatty deposits studied and at both weights at slaughter, while the calves from the Asturiana and Rubia Gallega breeds proved to be the least fatty.

Three types of fatty tissue

After the factorial analysis carried out on all the animals and with all the variables studied, Martín Alzón concluded that the 14 groups studied, i.e. the animals from seven breeds of both weights, can be classified into three groups. The first placed the Asturiana and the Rubia Gallega slaughtered at 320 Kg live weight together, characterised by a scant development of fatty tissue.

A second group, with an intermediate development of fatty tissue, include the Avileña, Morucha, Parda Alpina, Pirenaica and Retinta breeds slaughtered at 320 Kg live weight and the Asturiana and Rubia Gallega breeds slaughtered at 540 kilos live weight.

Finally, a third group was characterised by an intense fatty tissue development: the Avileña, Morucha, Parda Alpina, Pirenaica and Retinta breeds that were slaughtered at 540 kilos live weight.

Contact :
Iñaki Casado Redin
Nafarroako Unibertsitate Publikoa
(+34) 948 16 97 82

Iñaki Casado Redin | Basque research
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